Helen’s Note: This is the first of a two-part summary on Gamification workshops recently held at CELTT. Gamification is an innovative learning design, defined as “the use of game design elements in a non-game context.” Today’s guest blogger Kawehi Sellers is a leader on our campus in implementing gamification strategies to engage students and improve learning, in her online and face-to-face (F2F) courses. Kawehi’s F2F students also play games in almost every class. Asked how the attendance rate was, Kawehi said “very high,” i.e. almost perfect. 😃
Get your Game on!
By Kawehi Sellers, Assistant Professor, Hospitality & Tourism Education Program
Remember those games you used to play when you were a kid? You know . . . Operation, Monopoly, PacMan, Clue, Apples to Apples, Chinese Checkers, Trivial Pursuit or Uno? Perhaps I’m dating myself and maybe you’re more of a Minecraft, Clash Royale, Mario Kart or Game of Thrones player. Can we all agree games are fun? Games are rewarding, and I will argue that games have a way of connecting people to someone or something.
So in Summer 2015 when I was asked to research and implement gamification into our HOST 101 (Introduction to Hospitality and Tourism), I was game (pun intended). I used the summer to research the definition of gamification, which I found to refer to the use of game design elements in a non-game context. I embarked on a one-year journey to gamify my class. Full gamification implementation in all of the HOST 101 courses was Fall 2017.
It took awhile to figure out what type of game elements I wanted to use for class considering course content, rigor, student population, classroom configuration and features, and availability of technology. So, in the end I chose to focus on these elements:
- Changed my classroom vocabulary from drab to fab: Gone are tests, quizzes, homework and projects. Hello to missions, brain crushers, brain busters, quests and challenges.
- I used a leaderboard with student avatars so students could see how they measured up to others (of course, no actual scores or student identities are revealed).
- Developed in-class games to excite students about the content. A little bit of competition in the class seemed to keep their attention and motivate them. Games included matching games, guessing games, puzzles, crosswords and more.
- Prizes and bonus points! These incentives for achievement had little to no bearing on their grade, but they add to the competition and recognize students who come prepared, can communicate in the classroom setting and do well in a game. Prizes ranged from school supplies, to snacks, to bonus points added to their next challenge.
Gamification has been a game-changer for me. Not only have I had a wonderful time teaching my courses, I feel like the students now walk away with a real emotional connection to the class. They spend time in class laughing, connecting with one another, trying to out-do or beat their peers and genuinely have fun, and that’s not a bad thing at all.